When it does, Google's platform will presumably allow marketers to log into a Google-managed interface and place a buy for a national cable spot without much gate-keeping.
The "invitation-only" test phase for Google TV Ads--where vetted advertisers purchase inventory on networks offered by Dish Network--would then morph into what Google refers to as "general availability."
Michael Steib, the head of Google's TV Ads, declined to cite a time frame for the shift. But he said Google's testing "has been successful in proving the concept" behind the automated TV Ads system, and the challenge now is to expand and "scale" it. Steib spoke Thursday at the Television Bureau of Advertising's annual marketing conference.
During the test or beta phase, advertisers using the service range from HP to the smaller FragranceNet.com. The latter had never used TV before.
And Google is hoping the service will prompt more FragranceNet.coms-- an advertiser who has had success with Google's AdWords--to experiment with TV for the first time. "We believe not nearly enough people are advertising on television today," Steib said.
Through Google's Ad Creation Marketplace, a small advertiser with no TV creative can have a spot crafted by a Google-vetted producer. "We would like to see the barriers to entry to TV advertising go away," Steib said.
Google TV Ads allows advertisers to bid on inventory on 90-plus networks offered by the Dish Network satellite service, as well as a group of channels carried by a small California cable operator. The advertisers benefit from set-top-box data that gives them insight into the performance of their spots. The feedback can then be used to make changes to a campaign in near real-time--whether it be by network or daypart, in search of better targeting.
The day before Thursday's TVB conference, another Google executive, Dan Gertsacov, spoke at an industry gathering held by Carat, where he unveiled a new wrinkle in the Google TV Ads system that allows perhaps even greater targeting. Advertisers can now search for programming based on keywords and then buy time on related content. So, for example, Apple could search by the term "music downloads" and receive a list of related content where it may wish to slot ads in.
Both Steib and Gertsacov spoke about Google TV Ads' ability to offer insight into how a campaign functions simultaneously on TV and online. Steib mentioned the potential for gauging what transpires online--with site visits and transactions--soon after a TV spot runs.
Steib's TVB appearance came before a room of sales executives for local TV stations, many of whom were curious whether Google's online system could turn their inventory into a commodity or even threaten their jobs or their staffs'. But he spoke with a measured, olive branch-tone, saying Google doesn't believe its system nullifies any need for a sales force. In fact, he said he believes it can help stations clear hard-to-sell or run-of-the-mill inventory--perhaps at higher prices than believed possible--while helping sales executives spend more time crafting complex, higher-priced deals and less effort on administrative duties.
"We think that this is a system that fixes a lot of that stuff," he said.
It could also expand a stations' potential advertiser base, he suggested.
Regarding the potential for a station to gain better pricing for remnant inventory as advertisers toss bids its way, he said, "We think that that could be additive."
Google's TV group is not believed to have any direct Dish Network-style sales relationship with individual local stations. But more broadly, the Hearst-Argyle station group has a deal where its sales force sells AdWords in its local markets and gains a portion of revenues. And it has a revenue-sharing partnership with Google's YouTube, where it distributes video from its stations. Steib suggested station groups might be interested in pursuing similar arrangements.
TVB President Chris Rohrs, who invited Steib to offer an update on Google's TV initiatives at the conference, said he would be eager for a station to link with Google on a test involving set-top data. "I would hope that would happen, because those are the learnings we need to have," he said.